Something good came out of the downfall of Bob Hewitt

2015-05-18 17:48
Bob Hewitt. Picture: Herman Verwey/Foto24

Bob Hewitt. Picture: Herman Verwey/Foto24

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It has been an emotional time for those involved in the Bob Hewitt case.

On the one side were the women who were raped by the former tennis star when they were children. On the other was his wife, who stood by his side and defended him, and begged the judge to show him mercy.

In the middle was the man who affected them all so profoundly, yet showed no remorse for raping two women, Theresa “Twiggy” Tolken and Suellen Sheehan in the 1980s, and sexually assaulting a third woman in the 1990s.

Today, Judge Bert Bam of the North Gauteng High Court sentenced the 75-year-old to an effective six years in jail, saying that “there were "clearly no prospects of rehabilitation” but that his present health conditions were material for mercy. If it was the 1980s, he would have faced 20 years in jail.

The message sent by a sobbing Delaille Hewitt, who earlier this morning begged the judge not to send her husband to jail, was disturbing.

Standing by him suggests that she condones his actions. Begging for mercy suggests that he hadn’t really done anything wrong and should not be punished.

It’s very difficult to understand what would make a woman stand by an unremorseful man who had defiled and abused children placed in his care. He was meant to mould them and teach them. Instead he raped them – a loathsome crime made all the more despicable by his position as teacher and mentor.

These women lived with what happened to them for decades. The fact that they managed to take on their attacker after so many years is admirable.

The message that the judge sent is a strong one. Rape is not okay. And it will not be okay, three decades later. And victims who finally gather the courage to come forward and tell the world what happened will not be let down by the justice system.

It’s encouraging. And if there are other victims who did not have the courage to speak out, perhaps they will receive some sort of comfort or closure with the judgment.

The Bob Hewitt case might not mean the eradication of rape and child abuse, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Follow Alison Visser on Twitter: @scribblingal

Read more on:    bob hewitt  |  rape

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